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How do you evaluate vendor API offerings?

Evaluating the offerings of API vendors goes beyond the technology. Tsahi Levent-Levi offers some tips on taking a holistic approach toward vendor APIs.

When evaluating an application programming interface, you need to consider two key things. First, make sure the...

APIs are technically solid and fit your needs. Second, look for certain signals about the vendor APIs so you don't end up using an inferior product.

For starters, check if the vendor has a blog. Look at how frequently the blog is updated and its intended audience. A vibrant and relevant blog indicates the vendor cares about the API and customers.

Does the vendor have a GitHub account? Look at how many repositories are on the account to store the vendor's API project. Examine the types of rankings the repositories have, such as watchers and forks. The more the merrier.

Check other signals, such as tagged questions on the online programmer community Stack Overflow. Scour press releases, and examine the vendor API business model and the type of support the vendor offers.

Inspect the vendor's status page to see if it had outages and how they were addressed. You should know what to expect from vendor APIs when things fall apart. Look at the frequency of updates and upgrades to the service and APIs. Determine if the vendor meets your expectations.

Make sure these signals are also relevant to your industry. If you're looking for a service-level agreement with a vendor that understands enterprises such as yours, then you should make sure the vendor speaks your language. Otherwise, you and the vendor will find it hard to communicate.

Do you have a question for Tsahi Levent-Levi or any other experts? Ask your enterprise-specific questions today! (All questions are treated anonymously.)

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This was last published in December 2016

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